Australia Awards Six New Exploration Permits

Australia is still ranked as one of the world's top five locations for petroleum exploration but a global decline in that area is now starting to impact Australian activity, expenditure on petroleum exploration declined 11% in the June 2002 quarter (ABS calculation).

The resources sector was expecting the downturn and Federal Resources Minister, Ian Macfarlane, has responded with several initiatives to address the problem. "Today I can announce six new petroleum exploration permits, expected to generate about A$98 million in exploration activities, have been awarded in Commonwealth waters off the Northern Territory and West Australian coasts," said Mr. Macfarlane.

The permits have been awarded as follows:

  • In the Carnarvon Basin to Octanex NL, Strata Resources NL;
  • In the Browse Basin to Rawson Resources NL, Eagle Bay Resources NL, Icon Energy Ltd and Rough Range Oil Pty Ltd;
  • In the Bonaparte Basin to National Oil & Gas Pty Ltd, Australian Natural Gas Pty Ltd and Nations Natural Gas Pty Ltd.
  • "An active exploration industry is critical to Australia avoiding a reliance on fuel imports in the future. Many of our vast offshore sedimentary basins are under-explored but this should not be confused with being un-prospective," said Mr. Macfarlane.

    "While recent figures for mineral exploration are encouraging we are now actively investigating what issues are holding back further investment in both mineral and petroleum exploration through a number of different avenues. There's an industry Action Agenda and a Standing Committee inquiry into changes needed to promote further investment," he said.

    The Mineral Exploration Action Agenda will become the latest of almost 30 Action Agendas which bring together industry and government leaders to address specific problems in industries ranging from furnishings to freight and renewable energies.

    The Committee, chaired by Geoff Prosser MP, has received about 80 submissions addressing land access, investment attraction options, Native Title and geoscience data concerns. It is expected to report early in the new year.

    "These are not committees for the sake of talking about the industry's challenges, I expect to be able to develop a plan of attack to improve investment and maintain Australia's status as the world's least risky country in which to do mining business," said Mr. Macfarlane.